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Timeline of GiveDirectly

This is a timeline of GiveDirectly, a not-for-profit organization whose claimed mission is "to reduce poverty by providing financial assistance directly to those in need." It offers a service of cash transfers. GiveDirectly operates primarily in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.[1]


Big picture

Time period Development summary
2009 GiveDirectly launches and focuses on its novel cash transfers model. Kenya becomes the first operating country.
2012 GiveDirectly is rated as a "standout organization" by charity evaluator GiveWell.
2013 Uganda becomes GiveDirectly's second operating country.
2014 GiveDirectly board members launch Segovia, a software technology platform aimed at streamlining payment systems.
2015 Rwanda becomes GiveDirectly's third operating country.
2016 GiveDirectly undertakes its basic income enterprise. Kenya becomes the first operating country of the program.
2017 GiveDirectly begins a study of providing long-term, ongoing cash transfers sufficient for basic needs ("basic income guarantee").[2]
2018 GiveDirectly starts operating in Liberia, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Full timeline

Year Month and date Event type Details
2009 September 1 Founding GiveDirectly incorporates in the State of Massachusetts.[1]
2009 Program (cash transfers) GiveDirectly launches in Liberia and Kenya, and starts using mobile payments to deliver cash transfers.[3][4][5]
2011 July 2 Field staff in Kenya launches a large-scale evaluation of GiveDirectly's work, funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Dr. Johannes Haushofer of the University of Zurich in collaboration with GiveDirectly's board.[6]
2011 July 21 Media coverage GiveWell blogs about GiveDirectly, calling it "a charity to watch".[7]
2011 July 22 Donation Economics blog Marginal Revolution makes a donation and blogs about GiveDirectly.[8]
2011 July 26 Media coverage The Boston Globe's Brainiac blog writes about GiveDirectly and its procedure.[9]
2011 August 2 Media coverage NPR's Planet Money blog covers FiveDirectly approach, calling it a "simple but radical".[10]
2011 August 3 Media coverage Time Magazine's Moneyland blog calls GiveDirectly approach "radical, if obvious", asking: "Instead of using charitable donations to set up elaborate programs (and to cover hefty administrative costs for those programs), all in the name of helping the poor, why not just give the money directly to poor people, in as efficient a way as possible?".[11]
2011 Year round Funding GiveDirectly reaches 164 funders.[12].
2012 January 3 Media coverage Vishnu Sridharan at the New America Foundation writes a blog post on GiveDirectly approach and where it fits in to the big picture.[13]
2012 May 2 Recognition GiveWell completes its full review of GiveDirectly and rates them a "standout organization."[13][14]
2012 August 2 Team Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes joins GiveDirectly board as director.[15][16]
2012 November 2 Recognition GiveWell updates its evaluations for 2012 and names GiveDirectly one of three "top-rated" organizations.[13][14]
2012 December 5 Funding GiveDirectly receives a US$2.4 million Global Impact Award from Google, with over 90% of the amount (US$2.21 million) being earmarked for direct cash transfers to the poor, and the remainder of the award (US$ 190,000) to underwrite the fixed costs of setting up operations in a second country.[17]
2012 December Funding Good Ventures awards a grant of US$500,000 to GiveDirectly for general operating support in recognition of GiveWell’s No. 2 charity ranking in the year.[18]
2012 Year round Funding GiveDirectly reaches 810 funders.[12].
2013 March Financial GiveDirectly reports US$3 million in funds available, 2 million of which it has designated for future transfers in Kenya, and 1 million of which it has designated for use in scaling its model to a second country.[19]
2013 June 11 GiveDirectly announces New Blog Format "Thanks to the time and efforts of a generous volunteer, this section of the GiveDirectly website will now feature more frequent updates, including reports from our field team, lessons learned from our work, and the latest evidence on the impact our cash transfers have on the lives of the poor. "[20][21]
2013 June 26 Media coverage (cash transfers) GiveWell's publishes first full update on GiveDirectly, and produces an in-depth report on GD’s work in Kenya and their long-term outlook as they continue to scale up their cash transfer operations. The report covers GD's activities since November 2012, when GiveWell named GiveDirectly their second rated charity based on their criteria of efficiency, impact, transparency, and capacity for growth.[20][22]
2013 June Program (cash transfers) GiveDirectly plans to target only mud and thatch households in a second country chosen for its cash transfer program.[19]
2013 September 6 Media coverage David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein from Planet Money report on GiveDirectly work in Kenya, explaining whether its method of charity works, and why some people think it's a terrible idea.[23][24][20]
2013 November 20 Program (cash transfers) GiveDirectly announces it has a program up and running in Uganda, its second country.[25]
2013 Year round Funding GiveDirectly reaches 6,195 funders.[12].
2013 – 2014 December 2013 – January 31, 2014 Funding Good Ventures awards a grant of US$2 million to GiveDirectly in December 2013 and matches $5 million in additional donations from December 3, 2013 through January 31, 2014. Both grants are for general operating support in recognition of GiveDirectly's earning a "top charity" ranking from GiveWell in 2013.[26]
2014 February 10 Recognition American business magazine Fast Company names GiveDirectly one of the world's Top Ten Most Innovative Companies in Finance.[27][28][3]
2014 March 11 Media coverage (cash transfers) Staff at the Mulago Foundation comments on the results of Innovations for Poverty Action’s impact evaluation of GiveDirectly’s cash transfer program. Broadly speaking they see the results as “important” but think the media have overhyped them.[29][30][3]
2014 July 9 Program (cash transfers) GiveDirectly board members Michael Faye, Chris Hughes, and Paul Niehaus announce plans to start a separate, fee-for-service for-profit venture called Segovia to develop technology for managing field logistics, with a focus on programs that transfer cash to the poor.[3][31][32][14][33]
2014 November 26 GiveDirectly launches a new website, the first major update since went live in 2011.[3][34]
2014 October 24 Media coverage (cash transfers) In a new TED talk Joy Sun talks about GiveDirectly, and comments on the benefits of unconditional cash transfers.[35][36][3]
2014 December 10 Recognition GiveWell lists GiveDirectly as one of their top recommended charities once again.[3][37][38]
2014 December Funding Good Ventures awards a grant of US$5 million to GiveDirectly for general operating support in recognition of the organization's earning a "top charity" ranking from GiveWell.[39]
2014 Year round Funding GiveDirectly reaches 7,275 funders.[12].
2015  ? Expansion GiveDirectly registers in Rwanda.[1]
2015 June Donation Good Ventures announces an unrestricted US$25 million grant to GiveDirectly for support of general operations.[40][41][42][43][44][16]
2015 August 7 Donation Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna agree to donate US$25 million to GiveDirectly, the largest donation to date.[45]
2015 November 23 Recognition GiveWell names GiveDirectly one of their top-rated charities of 2015, this time for the fourth consecutive year. GiveWell also rates GiveDirectly strongest on all aspects of organizational performance, including on “transparency and communication,” “robustness of the case for impact,” and “room for more funding.”[46][40][14]
2015 Year round Funding GiveDirectly reaches 8,886 funders.[12].
2016  ? Donation Segovia donates its software and services to GiveDirectly. The in-kind donation of the software and associated services are valued at US$52,454 for the delivery of approximately US$5,170,928 of grant transfers that would be disbursed between January through April of 2016.[1]
2016  ? Expansion GiveDirectly begins enrollment in Rwanda.[1]
2016 January Donation Good Ventures awards a US$9.75 million grant to GiveDirectly for general operating support, in recognition of the organization’s earning a “top charity” ranking from GiveWell in 2015.[47]
2016 February The Global Innovation Fund announces its first round of investments, the first of which goes to Segovia.[33]
2016 April Program (basic income) GiveDirectly announces a US$30 million initiative to test universal basic income in order to ‘try to permanently end extreme poverty across dozens of villages and thousands of people in Kenya by guaranteeing them an ongoing income high enough to meet their basic needs’.[48]
2016 May Donation Segovia no longer donates the software and services to GiveDirectly and instead charges at a fixed percentage of grant transfers.[1]
2016  ? Program (cash transfers) GiveDirectly launches GDLive, an online tool for donors to read recipients' answers to questions about their lives and their reactions to receiving cash transfers from GiveDirectly.[2]
2016 October Program (basic income) GiveDirectly launches a pilot version of what would become the largest basic income experiment in history so far. Beginning early 2017, 40 villages would receive roughly US$22.50 per month for 12 years. Meanwhile, 80 villages would get the same amount for just two years, another 80 would get a lump sum equal to the two-year amount, and 100 villages would get no money.[49]
2016 October Program (cash transfers) GiveDirectly begins its transfers cash program in Rwanda.[14]
2016 November 29 Recognition GiveWell recognizes GiveDirectly as one of their top rated charities for the fifth year running.[50][51][14]
2016 December Program (basic income) GiveDirectly’s launches the first long-term Universal Basic Income evaluation in history.[50][52]
2016 December Program (basic income) GiveDirectly enrolls 31,000 new households, and places US$27 million into the hands of 40,000 households (or more than 180,000 individuals), most of whom live on less than $1/day. This represents more than a 1000X increase in distributions from just five years ago.[50][53]
2016 December Expansion GiveDirectly is registered under the Companies Act 2006 as having established a UK Establishment in the United Kingdom.[1]
2016 Year round Funding GiveDirectly reaches 10,999 funders.[12]
2017 January Media coverage (basic income) A range of outlets around the world mentions GiveDirectly in relation to universal basic income, including El Mundo, The World Post[54], Inside Philanthropy[55], New York Magazine[56], New Statesman[57], and The Guardian[58].[59][60]
2017 January Donation Good Ventures awards a US$2,500,000 grant to GiveDirectly for general operating support, in recognition of the organization’s earning a “top charity” ranking from GiveWell in 2016.[61]
2017 May Media coverage In a webinar, Greek American engineer Peter Diamandis interviews Michael Faye, who talks about the disruption of philanthropy through peer-to-peer aid.[62]
2017 May 17 Media coverage (basic income) Vox's "Weeds" interviews Michael Faye as well as several recipients of GiveDirectly basic income program in Western Kenya. The interview deals with a range of issues, from recipient choice to social welfare policy, and featuring some of the most important voices which are often left out of the debate: recipient families themselves.[63][64]
2017 July 5 Media coverage (basic income) Hamilton Nolan interviews GiveDirectly's co-founder Paul Niehaus, who discusses the current state of the debate around basic income and the details of our experiment. Elsewhere, GiveDirectly's basic income experiment is referenced in Fortune[65], Business Insider[66], and IndiaSpend. GiveDirectly is also mentioned in The Washington Post[67] as part of a broader shift toward cash transfers in the aid sector.[68][69][64]
2017 July 13 Media coverage In a 30-minute documentary, national broadcaster ABC Australia profiles GiveDirectly's work in Kenya, speaking at length with GD External Relations Director Caroline Teti, and Regional Director Mitch Riley.[64][70]
2017 October Program (cash transfers) GiveDirectly starts conducting two pilot projects in the United States to deliver cash transfers to people affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Maria.[1]
2017 November 13 Program (basic income) GiveDirectly officially launches its trial of basic income in rural Kenya, and starts enrolling experimental participants. The US$30 million experiment is expected to be the largest trial of basic income to date, in terms of both size and duration. All residents of about 120 rural Kenyan villages, comprising more than 16,000 people in total, would receive some type of unconditional cash transfers during the experiment; some of these villages, moreover, would receive the universal basic income for twelve years.[71] Field officers in Bomet County, Kenya begin to enroll the first (post-pilot) households into the basic income initiative[72][64]
2017  ? Program (cash transfers) GiveDirectly begins using Segovia mobile money wallets for delivery of cash transfers to the recipients in East Africa.[1]
2017  ? Donation GiveDirectly receives a US$663,500 grant from the Government of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development for its project serving refugees in Uganda.[1]
2017 December 7 Recognition GiveDirectly is recognized as a "top charity" by GiveWell.[73]
2017 December Donation The Open Philanthropy Project recommends a grant of US$2,500,000 to GiveDirectly for general operating support, due to its status as a GiveWell top charity.[74]
2017 December Program (cash transfers) GiveDirectly launches a US$3.5 million pilot program distributing cash transfers to refugees in Uganda. The program targets refugees who have been displaced for at least five years, as well as households in the communities hosting them.[2]
2018 January Donation GiveDirectly receives a US$3.6 million award from USAID to begin cash transfer operations in Liberia.[1]
2018 April Donation (cash transfers) GiveDirectly receives a US$3 million award to begin cash transfer operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and a US$3.75 million award to begin cash transfer operations in Malawi.[1]
2018 June Expansion GiveDirectly starts partnership projects in three new countries: Liberia, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[14]
2018 September 13 Program GiveDirectly publishes the results from their first experimental benchmarking study, a collaboration with USAID,, and academic and implementing partners set in Rwanda.[75][60]
2018 November Recognition GiveDirectly is listed as one of GiveWell's four top-rated charities, and is recognized for offering donors an outstanding opportunity to accomplish good with their donations.[76]
2018 November Funding GiveWell recommends that Good Ventures grant $2.5 million to GiveDirectly, citing several factors including standout transparency and GiveDirectly's strong process for ensuring that cash is well-targeted and consistently reaches its intended targets.[14]

Meta information on the timeline

How the timeline was built

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See also

External links


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